Caraway (botanical name Carum Carvi) is a biennial herb similar in appearance to the carrot plant. This herb belongs to the Umbelliferae family and is indigenous to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. Caraway is also called Persian Cumin or Meridian Fennel. The caraway plant grows up to a height of 60 cm and produces malleable fernlike leaves, umbels of white/ pink flowers and small crescent-shaped brown fruits. The fruits of this plant are often mistakenly called seeds. Caraway fruits are achenes (small, arid, solid, having a single seed indehiscent fruits) that have a curved shape and are about 2 mm in length.
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Caraway essential oil is extracted from the crushed seeds of the plant. In fact, caraway essential oil is among the small number of oils acquired mostly from the European countries. The caraway plant has a relation with dill and fennel - all belonging to the Umbelliferae family.
It may be mentioned that caraway has been used as a spice since the Roman period. While the Romans used caraway seeds in making their bread, the ancient Egyptians also added the herb to bread. In fact, even in the present day, this herb is extremely well-liked by people in the European countries, including Germany and Austria. In addition, caraway is also used in the preparation of the liqueur Kümmel (a German liqueur flavoured with caraway, aniseed and cumin). Caraway is added to sausages and sauerkraut.
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Caraway is a bi-annual plant that is native to Asia Minor (Western Asia, comprising most of the modern Republic of Turkey), but is now presently grown in Northern Europe, Russia and Africa. Caraway is also called meadow cumin. This is a very ancient spice having been used by people since the Stone Age. While the Egyptians used caraway to flavour their food, the Romans used it for making their bread. During the Middle Ages, the Germans as well as the Austrians used the herb for culinary purpose. Conventionally, caraway is said to promote clear vision and sweet breathing.
Caraway essential oil is extracted from dried out ripened seeds of the plant through a process called steam distillation. Each seed provides around two per cent to eight per cent of this essential oil. Chemical analysis of the essential oil obtained from caraway seeds has revealed that it encloses cumunic aldehyde, furfurol, carvone, acetaldehyde and limonene. The caraway essential oil is neither toxic nor results in provocation, but when used in high concentrations, it may cause irritation on the skin surface where it is applied. Caraway essential oil is also used for culinary purposes as a cooking medium.
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In addition, caraway possesses a number of other remedial properties and is known to be effective in treating oily skin conditions and is also useful to alleviate skin itches. This essential oil is also helpful in curing bruises and lessens boils. Besides, it is also used for cleansing wounds or injuries that have been infected. Caraway essential oil is also an effective remedy to get rid of acne as well as to cure scalp problems. When caraway essential oil is added to bath water, it helps to clear the impurities and dusts on the surface of the skin, including healing acne. This essential oil possesses a sweet zesty and fiery aroma.
The essential oil is extracted through the steam distillation of dried, ripened crushed seeds of caraway. The caraway essential oil possesses a number of remedial properties. It is antispasmodic, antiseptic, antihistaminic (a substance that tends to neutralize the effects of histamines), astringent and aperitif (a stimulant for appetite). While the caraway essential oil naturally helps in promoting digestion, it is also used to get rid of intestinal worms from the body. In addition, this essential oil is useful for endorsing cardiac functions and also works as an excellent diuretic (promotes urine outflow). Besides these therapeutic properties, this essential oil is also galactagogue (helps to promote breast milk secretion), stomachic (beneficial for the stomach), expectorant (promotes expulsion of phlegm or other fluid from the respiratory tract) and carminative (helps in expelling gas from the stomach and bowel).
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This essential oil is especially helpful for people who remain busy throughout the day since this organic oil possesses the property to unwind the strained nerves as well as provide comfort during mental exhaustion. As discussed earlier, this oil is also an effective expectorant and, therefore, it is extremely useful for people enduring bronchial asthma, bronchitis and coughs. When people suffering from these conditions use caraway essential oil, it works by promoting coughing and spitting out phlegm and other fluids from the respiratory tract. It is important for the body to expel the toxins and other wastes produced by it once in a while since the process helps to cleanse the system. Caraway oil is extremely useful in aiding this cleansing process. This oil is especially used to flush out intestinal worms from the body as well as expel discharge gas from the stomach and bowels. In addition, the essential oil extracted from dried out and ripened caraway seeds is useful in effectively treating conditions, such as laryngitis, sore throat, gastric spasms, colic, stomach disorders and flatulence.
As mentioned earlier, the caraway essential oil also is a natural galactagogue and, hence, it effectively promotes secretion of breast milk. As a result, caraway essential oil is recommended for nursing mothers for increasing their breast milk production for their babies. When this oil is taken along with honey, the blend is known to improve the quantity as well as the quality of breast milk. In fact, when nursing mothers use caraway essential oil, apart from them, their babies are also benefitted. The babies whose mothers use this oil face minimal risk of flatulence and indigestion. There are a number of people who endure acute coughing that intermittently result in breathlessness and, at times, also make such patients collapse. Histamines are known to be the reason behind such intense coughing. Since caraway essential oil possesses antihistamine properties, it is effective in healing such intense coughing.
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This essential oil possesses antiseptic properties and, hence, is effective in treating conditions, such as contagions of the colon, urinary tract, digestive system, respiratory system as well as the excretory system. In fact, all the conditions mentioned above may be treated at home using this essential oil. Caraway essential oil is not only effective in healing infections, but it also aids in preventing infections from being transmitted further. As aforesaid, this essential oil is also helpful in treating cardiac problems. It has been found that people who use this essential oil on a regular basis have diminished risks of developing high blood pressure or hypertension, high levels of cholesterol, irregular heart rate, stiffening of the arteries and veins and feeble cardiac muscles.
Caraway essential oil also possesses antispasmodic property which is responsible for its ability to provide fast relief in cases of muscle pulls and cramps. In addition, this property of the oil also helps in alleviating frequent coughs, hiccups, breathing difficulties as well as spasmodic cholera. Drinking a simple solution prepared by diluting this essential oil with warm water is effective in alleviating severe or chronic gas problems. Since caraway essential oil is also said to possess tonic or stimulant properties, using it helps to tone up the skin, heart, muscles and liver. In addition, this property of the oil is also helpful in enhancing the energy levels of an individual, which, in turn, keeps him or her full of life and make them feel youthful. As mentioned earlier, caraway essential oil is also effective in getting rid of acne and boils and keeps the skin clean. Moreover, it also alleviates skin itching and other epidermal disorders.
Other therapeutic properties of caraway essential oil includes it aptitude to treat mental depression. Since this oil is stomachic, it is helpful in healing several stomach problems, such as nervous digestion, flatulence, colic and gastric spasms or cramps in the stomach muscles. It is also effective in treating coughs, bronchial asthma and bronchitis. The expectorant property of caraway essential oil is said to be responsible for healing conditions like sore throats and laryngitis. This oil is also useful for the urinary system as it helps to get rid of toxins by enhancing the urine outflow. This oil is also beneficial for women. While it promotes secretion of breast milk in nursing mothers, the oil is also known to provide relief from menstrual pains.
It is advisable that pregnant women should not use caraway essential oil. Use of this essential oil may result in irritation and, hence, it should always be used in low intensity as well as with extreme caution. When used in high concentrations, this oil may result in irritation or touchiness. However, caraway essential oil is not noxious and does not sensitize or is not provocative. People having kidney problems should be additionally careful while using caraway essential oil.